Exploring the Wonders of Nature: Outdoor Learning Activities for Kindergartners 

Getting outdoors to explore nature is a vital part of early years education, and childhood as a whole. A well-planned learning environment, indoors and outside, is an important aspect of pedagogy. It can be as simple as grabbing your wellies and going on a bug hunt!

We all know that getting our little ones outdoors works wonders- it means a break from screens, less chaos inside the house, and worn-out children. But the benefits of spending some time in nature are quite incredible! These include improved cognitive, mental, emotional, and physical health as well as improved sleep with exposure to some nice warm sunlight. Exposure to morning and evening sun helps to shape our natural internal body clock, which assists in priming our bodies for sleep.

When it comes to childhood health issues, research has shown that spending more time in nature can alleviate many of these problems, including diabetes, obesity, and depression.

Little Stars - Exploring the Wonders of Nature

Here are some creative and engaging activities to encourage our little explorers to spend more quality time outdoors:

Explore nature on a Nature Trail

Find a spot that is local to you with plenty of natural interest. It could be a stream, a pond, the local woods, or even your garden. What can the children find? Leaves, pinecones, bugs, birds, flowers. Encourage children to notice what they see. Lift logs to find little critters (but remember to put them back, and always be mindful of anything dangerous/ poisonous). Talk about the seasons and what happens to the leaves and trees. It would be a great idea to take a clipboard, a magnifying glass some paper and a pencil with you and jot down what you find. It’s also a good idea to encourage the children to take photos and look back at them when you return another time.

Collect little leaves, twigs, pebbles and other natural materials for mandalas, small-world play and counting activities 

Grab a basket and see what you can collect. A great benefit of this is that your play space will be ever changing as nature offers different seasonal goodies.

Your little ones might collect leaves, pinecones, flower petals, and stones. Take them back to the setting or your home and think of the ways you can incorporate them into your play or any fun DIY projects with your child. The possibilities are endless!

Make stick people or nature wands

Create a beautiful leaf kebab by skewering leaves onto a stick. Why not create a whole family of stick people?! You might like to support this play with stories about little stick and leaf people.

Sensory discovery – Nature sounds

What can you hear? Quite often we are so busy that we forget to stop and simply listen. If it is dry, children can lay down and look up at the sky, trees and simply listen for maybe 30 seconds. Ask children ‘What can you hear?’ Birds tweeting, leaves rustling, wind, people talking, an aeroplane flying above. Ask other questions such as ‘What can you see?’ and ‘What can you smell?’ This is great for encouraging communication and language development.

Pop-up Mini Mud Kitchen

Make a pop-up mud kitchen with a wooden crate, a muffin tin, a saucepan, wooden spoons and sticks for stirring and a small bottle of water. Simply add mud and some loose parts from your natural collection.

Clay Creatures

Take a bag of clay on your adventures. Give children a small ball each to create their own forest bug or creature. Add in loose parts for facial features or body parts. This is another great way to encourage children’s imagination and creativity!

We hope these help make your time outdoors with the children more enjoyable and interesting!

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